« PreviousContinue »
St. Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save “ in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." They
“ the true circumcision, who worship God in “ the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and “ have no confidence in the flesh.”
The propriety and necessity of this petition for an increase of true religion in our hearts will be evident to' every conscious mind. For O how defective are the best members of the church on earth in those sensibilities in which true religion consists, and in those effects which it is calculated to produce! Where is that depth of humility, that liveliness of gratitude, that strength of affiance, that fire of zeal, which become us as the servants of God and believers in Jesus? And in every “work of faith and la« bour of love" how short we come of our duty and of God's glory! The genuine penitent will blush at the survey, and cry from the bottom of his soul, “ Lord of all power and might, increase "in me true religion !"
In the third branch of our prayer, we beseech God to “nourish us with all goodness.” The foreign cion of love to God which is inserted in our hearts must be nourished by His grace, or it will languish and die. He must water as well as plant, or no fruit can be produced. All those amiable qualities which constitute the Divine image, and which sanctifying grace restores to the fallen soul, are of and from God. It is from Christ “the head” that “all the body, by joints and bands having nourishment mini- stered and knit together, increaseth with the 6 increase of God.” Even the means of grace, without the Spirit of grace, are unavailing to the furtherance of the Divine life. An appeal to experience in this case will supply the place
of a thousand arguments. The sacred cion must have' moisture and warmth extrinsecally communicated, or it cannot incorporate itself with the stock in which it is inserted so as to become fruitful in good works.
Lastly, we beseech God “ of His great mer“ cy” to “keep us in the same. '
What an humiliating view of human depravity and helplessness does our collect present? Man, in whose “flesh dwelleth no good thing,” is totally unable to regenerate himself, or, being regenerate, to “keep himself” in the spirit and practice of Godliness. How striking and beau. tiful is the short prayer of the celebrated Fenelon, “Lord, take my heart to thyself, for I “ cannot give it to thee; and when thou hast “ taken it, keep it for thyself, for I cannot keep * it for thee: Give me such outward crosses as
may keep me under the obedience of thy “ cross, and save me in spite of myself.”
But to what doth this last petition of our collect refer? It refers to all the foregoing particulars. Keep us in the love of thy name; under the influence and in the practice of “true re“ ligion;" in the experience of “all goodness.” Keep us daily, hourly, momentarily. Keep us to the end of our lives, the termination of our warfare, “ through Jesus Christ our Lord;" that at length an abundant entrance may be ministered to us into His everlasting kingdom. The conscious breast will join heartily in the AMEN of the catholic church.
THE EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
O God, whose never failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Tis a most magnificent idea which the an
tient church has given of the object of her worship, when she says, “ Our God is in the
heavens, He hath done whatsoever He. “ pleased.” (Ps. cxv. 3.) This is indeed a satisfactory answer to the question which a blaspheming foe, whether human or infernal, may ask us in our troubles, “ Where is now your " God?" We have a God-One who is able to help us, and hath pledged Himself to be our helper. Nothing hath happened to us contrary to His will or to our real welfare. His infinite wisdom and power are engaged to make all things work together for the good of His people. Such is our God; whereas “ all the idols of the “ heathen are silver and gold, the works of “men's hands. They have mouths, but they
speak not; eyes have they, but they see not.
They have ears, but they hear not; noses “ have they, but they smell not. They have
hands, but they handle not; feet have they, “ but they walk not; neither speak they “ through their throat. They that make them
are like unto them; so is every one that “ trusteth in them;" senseless and worthless are
both they and their worshippers. Our God sees our distresses, hears our prayers and answers them, relieves our wants, delivers us from trouble, and will finally save us from all evil. And therefore while others trust in unprofitable idols, we will trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Such hath been the determination of every genuine member of the church of God, whether under the Old, or the New Testament-dispensation. Such is the determination which we avow in our present collect; which contains A preface, ascribing to our God an universal and never failing providence,-and A prayer founded on that ascription.
The preface or introductory part of our collect ascribes to God an universal and never failing providence. It will be our present object to prove the existence and to shew the nature of Divine providence, and then to demonstrate that it is universal and never failing.
Providence is foresight, timely care, and the act of making provision. The providence of God is His care and superintendence over crea. tion. The existence of Divine providence appears from various passages of Scripture, and from what are called the works of nature. To deny it is atheistical. In the creed of a Christian the doctrine of chance has no place, for he believes that “ God ordereth all things after the “ counsel of His own will.” According to the book of inspiration which is the standard of a Christian's creed, if a man be slain by what is usually called an accident, it is God who delivers the person who is slain into the slayer's band. (Exod. xxi. 13.) “ Affliction cometh not so forth from the dust, neither doth trouble
spring out of the ground.” (Job v. 6.)
« bis steps.”
« Promotion cometh neither from the east nor “ from the west, nor from the south. But God is “ the judge: He putteth down one, and set“ teth up another.” (Ps. lxxv. 6, 7.) A man's " heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth
« The lot is cast into the lap; " but the whole disposing thereof is of the “ Lord.” (Prov. xvi. 9, 33.) “There are many “ devices in a man's heart: nevertheless the “ counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." (Prov. xix. 21.) “ The horse is prepared against the
day of battle; but safety is of the Lord.” From these and a great multitude of other passages the doctrine of Divine providence is fully established, as will further appear while we take a twofold view of the subject. The providence of God may be considered both as it uphold: and governs the things which He has made.
He “upholdeth all things by the word of " His power.” (Heb. i. 3.) As no creature could be the cause of its own existence, so nei. ther of its own continuance. An independent creature is an absurdity. Though God acts by means, yet these means must be traced up to a first cause.
The chain of effects, however protracted, must have a first link, and that first link must depend on God.
As the providence of God upholds all things which He has made, so also it governs them. All things animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, great and small, are under His controul and direction. The very heathens compared God to the pilot of a ship, a charioteer, the general of an army, and a king; by which comparisons they discovered their belief in His providence. The Epicureans indeed supposed God to sit in majestic ease, unconcerned about